Richard Mille - A lesson on how to kill legibility...
With all the hype about space-age materials and the uber lightness of the Richard Mille, I wanted to take a closer look at some of the much acclaimed pieces and chose RM11 as a study. This is an annual calendar + chrono combination with some extra zing added.
The watch boasts of variable geometry and several firsts including some titanium base plate etc; but rather than going starry eyed about those esoteric tech and materials, I just wanted to see how a wearer will tell time or use some of those chrono functions ( which incidentally has a 60 min countdown timer function as well - find out where it is!).
Not being able to see it in the metal, I took the easier route of downloading the images from the web & this forum.
What greeted my eye is a riot of colours; odd sets of hands that merge into the dial face; and a jumble of indicators and sub-dials. A tiny window between 4 and 5 shows a microscopic number ( guess what it is!!)
The fat hour and minute hands with the cut-away parts to help get a glimpse of the sub-dial when they are crossing those can at best be described as an attempt to solve a problem and nothing to do with design coherence..
The minute hand is quite short of the indicators owing to that shape of the case. And the chrono seconds-hand stays so far away from the markers due to the tonneau case, that it would be a miracle to read the exact second when the hand is stopped.
Is the "day-of-the-week" important in an annual calendar? Oops... RM thinks it is not. ( of course several other brands have dispensed with this important indicator in their annual / perpetual calendars as well)
Can anyone use the chrono and get the readings off these sub-dials at a glance? Most likely one may squint into the dial gamely and make an educated guess and least of all if I imagine the Formula 1 driver trying to read the chrono or even try to read the time, with his hands on the wheel!!!
I am left wondering if in pursuit of esoteric materials and lightness, the core principles of watchmaking have been consigned to the side?
While the rose gold version seems slightly better, the rest of the offerings ( TPTcase) go more south in terms of the legibility factor!
For a minute forget that this is a RM and then look at the watch so that there is no bias. The one that can readily decipher the functions and display without any discomfort is a winner for sure. The pics below are rather large and imagine the actual watch size...